Amid war, IDF to bolster combat engineering capabilities by over a third

Army plans to acquire tens of thousands of explosives and mines, along with 100 D9 bulldozers and other heavy equipment; additionally, Combat Engineering Corps to significantly increase in size as nature of combat in Gaza demonstrates their indispensable role

Following the outbreak of the war in the Gaza Strip and due to the significant demand for combat engineering hardware, including D9 bulldozers, the IDF is expected to acquire around 100 such vehicles and bolster the IDF Comabt Engineering Crops’ strength by over one-third in the coming months, including incorporating female combat soldiers to the elite Yahalom unit, which plays a crucial role in the fighting.
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Since the beginning of ground operations in Gaza in late October, forces in the field have relied heavily on the D9 to support their operations in various combat sectors in Gaza. Engineering tools have become the most sought-after resource on the battlefield.
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דחפורי די9 בחאן יונס עזה
דחפורי די9 בחאן יונס עזה
D9 bulldozers in Gaza
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
At the beginning of the war, the military acquired about 90 different tractors participating in combat missions in the area, in addition to the hundreds of existing vehicles.
Meanwhile, the army has launched efforts to procure around 100 additional heavy vehicles, most of them D9 bulldozers. These are expected to be integrated into the IDF in the coming months and become operational in weeks.
Some of them will also be adapted for autonomous use, without the need to be operated by a soldier, becoming the autonomous D9 dubbed "Panda," which is already in use by the IDF in the current war.
In addition to the acquisition of these vehicles, the IDF's plan includes expanding the entire Combat Engineering Corps by more than one-third in the coming months, with the addition of various engineering platoons, including the Yahalom unit, which is also set to grow significantly. Additionally, tens of thousands of explosives and landmines, including demolition materials, are being purchased.
The military officers were shocked to learn of the extent of Hamas's subterranean tunnel system under Gaza, which extends for hundreds of kilometers, with thousands of tunnel shafts found all across the territory.
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דחפורי די9 בחאן יונס עזה
דחפורי די9 בחאן יונס עזה
D9 bulldozer in Khan Younis
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The Yahalom unit, which has been in action in Gaza since the beginning of the war, primarily against these tunnels, will now be joined by female combat soldiers as part of a pilot program that began last year and is now being expedited on account of its success.
Yahalom has acquired and deployed hundreds of new robots and various means for the discovery and exploration of tunnels in Gaza during the war in order to minimize the risk to soldiers.
The widespread use of D9 bulldozers has also led to mechanical wear. Today, every brigade and division commander is provided with a D9 bulldozer due to high demand. Additionally, since operating these tools in combat requires significant skill, many soldiers operating them are reservists in their 40s, 50s or older.
These reserve engineering battalions' service will be extended, with no foreseeable release date. In contrast, reconnaissance and infantry reserve battalions have already been released on leave to their homes in preparation for further combat training in the coming months.
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